Out of the Loop: Attractions attempt Michael Jackson tributes

By Andy Guinigundo

dsc_0567I suppose it’s fitting that someone who loved amusement parks so much, mostly Disney, has been appearing in various ways at various attractions since his death in June. No, I am not implying that Michael Jackson has been “haunting” various attractions. However, tributes have been prominently attempted and sometimes executed at various theme parks.

Failed attempts:
Legoland California often has Lego displays of current events displayed in the Carlsbad, California park. Soon after Jackson’s death, they planned a tribute display. In fact, Legoland asked fans to vote for their favorite version of the Lego MJ. About 24 hours before the grand unveiling, the display was cancelled. Sources reported that the Jackson estate stopped the display. You see the different Michaels here.

Kings Island in Ohio attempted a more macabre tribute to several recently dead celebrities. In addition to Michael Jackson, there was Heath Ledger, Steve McNair and Farrah Fawcett. Some of the celebrities were depicted as skeletons set up in scenes reminiscent of their deaths. The scenes that were to be part of the “Halloween Haunt” were deemed too inappropriate not only in conservative Cincinnati, but nationally. Kings Island ended up taking these scenes out and apologizing for the incident.

May still happen:
Soon after Jackson’s death, fans of Disney’s Captain EO clamored for the 3D movie’s return. Traffic to sites like YouTube saw heavy traffic to videos featuring Captain EO. In classic Disney denial fashion, CEO Bob Iger announced at the D23 Expo – “there are no plans to bring back Captain EO, but we are looking at it”. Personally, I would seriously take a good long look at the surviving film before rushing into a revival. 23 year old 3D special effects may not be very special.

Successful Tributes:
Last weekend on Oct. 24, dancers at Six Flags parks in North American joined other locations around the world in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for number of simultaneous Thriller performers in an event dubbed “Thrill the World”. Six Flags dancers comprised some 3,100 of the planned 10,000. It was announced a few days ago that there were 22,923 dancers in 32 countries. Additionally, $85,000 was raised for charity. The Thrill the World event coincided with Six Flags’ “Fright Fest”, their yearly Halloween event.

Thrill the World at Six Flags Great America

Oct. 27 was the world premier of the new Michael Jackson movie, “This is It!”. To commemorate the event, Madame Tussauds Hollywood provided a Michael Jackson wax figure valued at $350,000 that was featured at the Universal CityWalk Cinemas in Hollywood. The one-night only event allowed fans the opportunity to pose with the figure for pictures. The wax figure is dressed in an outfit that was to have been featured on the “This is It!” concert series. The figure was created at Madame Tussauds London with input from the pop star himself. When he is not gracing the red carpet, he can be seen daily at Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

A recent tribute was also held right in Orlando during Spooky empire’s Zombie Walk. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was reenacted along International Drive by the Rich Weirdoes and Cheryl Sington’s Dance Warehouse. Sington was one of the original dancers in the “Thriller” music video with Michael Jackson. John Landis, director of the “Thriller” video, was also on hand.

Interview with John Landis at Spooky Empire 2009 in Orlando

In another Orlando tribute, don’t be surprised if a “Thriller” dance breaks out the next time you’re dining at the Hard Rock Cafe in Universal CityWalk. The staff took it upon themselves to learn the dance and sometimes perform it when the song happens to play in the restaurant. More details can be found here.

Hard Rock Cafe Staff Thriller 1

Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. Out of the Loop keeps you up-to-date with attraction news outside of Central Florida. Andy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.


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